China fears worsen as jets enter disputed airspace
Chinese news agency Xinhua has reported that on Thursday China launched fighter jet planes into disputed airspace over the East China Sea after Japanese and South Korean military aircraft flew through the area.
Shen Jinke, China’s air force spokesman, said: “These warplanes were set out as a defensive measure and in line with international common practices and that China’s air force has been on high alert after Japanese and South Korean aircraft flew through the airspace without informing China on Thursday.”
Xinhua reported that China declared the controversial air defence zone over the weekend, which was met with criticism from its neighbour, South Korea, and Japan as well as the US.
Analysts say the move was designed to challenge American dominance in the region and shoo away Japanese ownership of disputed islands known as the Senkaku in the East China Sea.
Despite the declaration the US flew two unarmed B-52 bombers over the islands without officially informing China, on Tuesday. Furthermore, Japan’s two biggest airlines have already begun defying the orders. The growing turbulence in disputed airspace has led to rising tensions between Beijing and Tokyo.
Japanese chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said: “Japan had sent patrol planes into the airspace without informing China…. The aircraft were sent to carry out surveillance activity as before in the East China Sea, including the zone and Japan is not going to change this (activity) out of consideration to China.”
At a meeting in Seoul on Thursday, Chinese military officials rejected South Korea’s demands to reconsider the zone and asked South Korea to let them know of any plans that will cause aircrafts to pass through the area.
Replying to China’s deploying of fighter jets yesterday, Wi Young-Seop, a spokesman from the South Korean defence ministry said: “South Korea had conducted a routine surveillance mission on Tuesday over a submerged rock where Seoul has a scientific research centre, but to which China also lays claim.”